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Top 5 Golden Glove contenders

FIFA.com

The seventh season of the Indian Super League is less than a month away with the league management announcing that the league will be commencing on 20th November and the schedule is expected to be out very soon.

As always, the teams are preparing hard for the league season but a lack of proper pre-season would affect the teams with many teams still holding training sessions without a few of their overseas players or coaches due to international travel restrictions.

Most of the ISL teams prefer an Indian goalkeeper but the understanding between the foreign centre-backs and the goalkeepers can only develop after a certain no. of training sessions and few pre-season matches.

Over the last few seasons, the defense has been more and more of a priority for the ISL squads with every club trying to recruit the best young goalkeepers around the country and play them behind experienced overseas central defenders.

Let’s take a look at the five top contenders for the ‘Golden Glove’ ahead of the 2020-21 ISL season.

#5 Mohammad Nawaz (FC Goa)

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A couple of years back, Nawaz was playing in the I-League II, now the third tier of the Indian football pyramid. Since making his debut in the 2018-19 ISL season, Nawaz has racked up 37 senior appearances for FC Goa helping the club reach the playoff stage in both seasons.

At just 20 years of age, Nawaz is one of the brightest young players in the league and could become the first goalkeeper to win the ‘ISL Emerging Player of the League’ award.

It would be interesting to see how Nawaz adapts to playing behind the centre-half duo of Ivan Gonzalez and James Donachie with Carlos Pena retiring and Mourtada Fall snapped up by Mumbai City FC during the off-season.

#4 Vishal Kaith (Chennaiyin FC)

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Kaith was surprisingly given the No.1 spot in the Chennaiyin FC squad last season by Owen Coyle with the experienced Karanjit Singh made to deputize for the 24-year old custodian.

Vishal Kaith conceded 24 goals in 17 matches during the league stage of the 2019-20 season, his distribution and reflexes were impressive for a goalkeeper of his age playing at a top ISL club.

In the 2020-21 ISL season, Kaith will be playing the centre-half duo of Eli Sabia and Enes Sipovic. The two towering figures ahead of the former Pune City FC goalkeeper should give him bags of confidence for keeping more clean sheets in the upcoming season

#3 Arindam Bhattacharya (ATK Mohun Bagan FC)

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Arindam Bhattacharya helped ATK win the the Indian Super League 2019-20 and has been entrusted to be the club’s No.1 for the upcoming season.

The former Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC shot-stopper kept 9 clean sheets in just 17 league matches last season and conceded only 14 goals, the joint lowest in the league stage alongside ‘Golden Glove’ winner Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

The 30-year old will be playing behind an excellent defense with the manager picking out a back-three from Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Tiri, Subhashish Bose, and Sumit Rathi.

#2 Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC)

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The winner of the 2016 ISL ‘Golden Glove’ winner despite missing half the season due to injury would be hoping to win another ‘Golden Glove’ award to add to his kitty.

Amrinder Singh has improved every year as a goalkeeper in terms of his distribution and reactions but suffered a blip in form during the 2019-20 ISL season and would be hoping to get back to his solid best during the upcoming season.

The 27-year old Islanders goalkeeper would be relishing the opportunity to play behind experienced defenders like Mourtada Fall and Mandar Rao Dessai and stake a claim for the Blue Tigers No.1 position.

#1 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC)

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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has impressed everyone in India since coming back from a three-year spell with the Norweigian club Stabaek. Since then, the 28-year old has stamped himself as the No.1 for the Indian national football team and has captained the Blue Tigers on several occasions as well.

The Bengaluru FC goalkeeper has bagged the ‘Golden Glove’ in the last two seasons of the Indian Super League, becoming the first goalkeeper to keep 11 clean sheets in a single ISL season, conceding only 14 goals in 19 matches.

Sandhu will be playing behind a couple of familiar faces in first-choice right-back Rahul Bheke, centre-back Juanan while a couple of faces in Spanish defender Fran Gonzalez and left-back Ajith Kumar would be new to the Blues setup.